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ING Confirms It May Carve Up Asian Insurance Unit

By Maarten van Tartwijk AMSTERDAM--ING Groep NV (INGA.AE) Wednesday confirmed that the sale of its Asian insurance operations may take place through multiple transactions and said it has received interest for all units. In a presentation for analysts, ING said that the operations have a total book value of 6.6 billion euros ($8.18 billion). It said the sale process is "on track," but didn't provide further details. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that ING will likely carve up its Asian life-insurance franchise rather than sell it as a whole after no successful bidder emerged for the big regional operation. Separate deals could still fetch more than $7 billion for the Dutch group, but selling the business in pieces complicates matters for ING, which is under pressure from European regulators to shed assets following the receipt of state aid. ING had offered potential suitors the option of bidding for the entire franchise or parts of the business, but it had told potential buyers it strongly favored selling the franchise as a whole. A disposal to one bidder would have been simpler, minimizing the likelihood of ING being left holding parts that few other parties wanted, such as the variable-annuity business in Japan. The European Union's executive arm ordered ING to cut its balance sheet by 45% to win approval for the state aid it had received. The order means ING must sell its global insurance arm and some banking assets, which should be completed before the end of 2013. --Alison Tudor contributed to this article Write to Maarten van Tartwijk at maarten.vantartwijk@dowjones.com Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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